Prairie dogs are herbivores which are native to the grasslands of North America and through their various activities they provide vital support for other species. Their underground homes create shelter for jackrabbits, toads and rattlesnakes. Their digging makes soil more fertile and allows seeds to germinate. The bare patches of ground created by their grazing and burrowing attract certain insects that feed a variety of birds and prairie dogs themselves are a key food source for other animals including coyotes, eagles, hawks, badgers and wolves. Prairie dogs are essential to the survival of the endangered black-footed ferret, being the main part of their diet. However, prairie dogs are no pushover – they are fast, skilled fighters with powerful teeth and it takes a while for black-footed ferrets to learn how to catch them.
Prairie dogs are very social and live in closely-knit family groups called "coteries." They only mate once a year with the female in oestrus for just an hour. Litters consist of 3 to 8 pups but usually only half will survive their first year.